New Year’s Eve is not a raucous event in our neck of the woods. We do celebrate with a special meal and toast to the new year, but that is about it. In the last decade, we have not seen the ball fall or banged a pot at the stroke of midnight. At 99 years old, Mom was having more excitement than we were. She said that she was in a quandary about what ball gown to wear to her New Year’s party at her assisted living home. She started the new year with her sense of humor intact.
As soon as I wake up on the first day of the new year, something bubbles up in my soul. I feel the new year is rife with possibility and hope. It is like erasing the blackboard with the promise of scribing something meaningful, profound or silly.
My first action is to put away the holiday decorations and try to look at the house with a new vision of how it can be streamlined, cleaned or given a new look. Some of my most successful closet organizations have occurred at this time. I am not naturally organized but I do admire people who are and study their habits and advice. One of the books that gave me some ideas was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. She states, if you don’t love it, give it away or toss it. The UWVC, United War Veterans Council, has graciously assisted with picking up our excised items.
It is very freeing to weed out excess stuff. The Scandinavians have a process as described in Margarita Magnusson’s book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. The word for this is dostadning and the process is not so gruesome as it sounds. It is just downsizing and deciding what is materially important to you and what is not. Also by lightening your load, your loved ones may be spared excess work and pain if anything happened to you.
Around fifteen years ago, my mother moved from her home of almost 40 years and she jettisoned tons of stuff. Of course, she moved to an apartment which necessitated her downsizing. Over the years in her apartment, she continued to cull out lots of treasures. By the time she went to assisted living, our job of disposing of the things she could not take was tremendously lightened. Her legal and financial affairs were also “in order.” She even went through her pictures, dating, labeling and sorting them for us.
She laughed when I told her about dostdning and that she had employed her Scandinavian heritage of death cleaning. Her sister, Aunt Ruth, is doing her own downsizing and recently sent me my Grandma Johnsen’s copper tea kettle, oil cruet and tray. These were made in Norway, given to her as wedding gifts and are over 100 years old. Now it’s my turn to do some load lightening and waking up those Scandinavian genes.